Sir Richard Bishop is a composer, improviser, and explorer on acoustic and electric guitar whose work often reflects the shadow worlds of India, the Middle East, North Africa, and other points along the Gypsy trail.[clarification needed] This is combined with a singular, experimental approach to the guitar that takes the guitarist's art into audio realms that are rarely visited. Attentive listeners may hear shades of Les Paul, Django Reinhardt, Sonny Sharrock, and Ravi Shankar in his playing. Bishop has fused these and many other elements to forge a unique and inventive style all his own.
In 2005 Bishop began performing as a solo artist, playing throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States. He has done extensive touring with Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy), Animal Collective, Devendra Banhart, Bill Callahan, and many others.
Sir Richard’s first official solo record, Salvador Kali, was released by John Fahey’s esteemed Revenant Records label in 1998. The album showcases Bishop's own particular obsessions and roots, drawing from a variety of worldwide sources. Locust Music issued his second record, Improvika in 2004. This album consists of nine extemporaneous and free-flowing pieces for solo acoustic guitar. Up next was Fingering the Devil, which was recorded at an impromptu session at London’s Southern Studios on a day off from the 2005 European tour. It beautifully captures the music Bishop was playing on stage during this time. This was followed by two more releases from Locust: Elektronika Demonika, a recording of ear-splitting, creepy electronics, containing no guitar at all; and While My Guitar Violently Bleeds, which is made up of three extended compositions for acoustic and electric guitar. Richard's 30-minute film God Damn Religion, a trance-inducing, relentless barrage of seizure-causing imagery, was unleashed on DVD by Locust in 2006.
2007 saw the first Sir Richard release from the Drag City label, Polytheistic Fragments. It includes works for acoustic, electric and lapsteel guitar, plus two piano compositions. Next up was The Freak of Araby (Drag City, 2009). This was the first Sir Richard Bishop album to feature a full band of supporting musicians. The record stands as a heart-felt tribute to late Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid as well as to the enduring spirit of Middle Eastern music.
In May of 2010, Drag City released the album False Flag by Rangda, a new group featuring Bishop, Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance, Comets on Fire), and Chris Corsano (Flower-Corsano Duo, Flaherty/Corsano, Jandek, Bjork, etc).
Richard is well known as a founding member (along with brother Alan Bishop) of ethnic-improv pioneers and underground tricksters Sun City Girls, who during their 26 years (1981–2007), produced an extensive discography of over 50 full length albums, 20 one-hour cassettes and a dozen 7” records. In the early 1980s he was also a member of the group Paris 1942 which included Alan Bishop, J. Akkari and former Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker.
In 2003, Richard, along with Alan Bishop and Hisham Mayet, founded the Sublime Frequencies label - a collective of explorers dedicated to acquiring and releasing obscure sights and sounds from Africa, India, S.E. Asia and beyond.